PEI

Disability group concerned over fraudulant renewals

The PEI Council of People with Disabilities is concerned about the number of people trying to renew disability parking permits that don't belong to them.

'You're actively pursuing to use a permit that you're not entitled to use'

Designated parking permits are for individuals who need barrier free parking. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

The PEI Council of People with Disabilities is concerned about the number of people trying to renew disability parking permits that don't belong to them.  

It is currently in the process of renewing parking permits across P.E.I., said Marcia Carroll, the council's executive director. She said staff have to be extra vigilant to monitor for people who are trying to renew permits that don't belong to them and they may not need. 

The council renews close to 7,500 permits a year and it catches people trying to renew fraudulent permits up to twice a month, Carroll said.  

"The most pervasive way that we see it happening is people coming in and they're renewing their dead relatives' permits," she added.

Permits are there for those who need them

Staff at the council will check obituaries and also flag people within their own database if they suspect someone is trying to renew a permit that is not theirs, she added.

The PEI Council of People with Disabilities is an non-profit organization that manages the issuing of designated parking permits. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

"We had somebody come in today with a stolen permit," she said.

"If it's a man who's trying to renew a woman's permit and there's a big age discrepancy, you know there's certain ways we can check on things."

In order to obtain a permit correctly, people need to go through their doctor to have a medical certificate filled out and verified. Then they can apply for the permit at one of the council's three locations on the Island.  

"From a non-profit agency, that's not what we are trained to do and not what we want to do, but you know, we have to stop people from taking advantage of a program that is designed to allow people with disabilities — all kinds of disabilities — the spots are there so they can move freely through their community," Carroll said.

'Not a spur of the moment decision'

The council said there aren't any official rules when it comes to penalizing people for using permits that don't belong to them.

The PEI Council of People with Disabilities issues the permits to residents who apply with the proper medical forms. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

It takes on the responsibility of investigating misused permits, which Carroll said takes up a lot of time and resources.

When the council does catch someone trying to renew a permit that isn't theirs, it takes it away and tells them to see a doctor to get one in the correct manner, Carroll said.

It's always very disconcerting when this situation happens, Carroll added. 

"It's not a spur of the moment decision to park in a spot because you're in a rush. You're actively pursuing to use a permit that you're not entitled to use," she added.

Not likely to add information to permits

It can also be challenging for police officers and parking enforcement to know if someone is using a permit that isn't theirs, Carroll explained.

Islanders require a parking permit to use spots like this. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

There are no names or pictures attached to tags, only a registered number that can be cross-referenced in the council's database.

Adding these elements to the permits would be expensive, Carroll said, and would increase the price of a permit. 

Carroll said that the council will continue to be diligent and closely monitor its permit system.

If you think a person is misusing a permit, Carroll advised, don't confront them. Instead, she said, call the PEI Council of People with Disabilities and report the number on the permit. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brittany Spencer is a multi-platform journalist with CBC P.E.I. Email: brittany.spencer@cbc.ca

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